(360) 786-7640|Marko.Liias@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: March 2017

Why we should close wasteful tax loopholes

March 22nd, 2017|

Everyone knows we need to find a way of fully funding K-12 education across our state, and we also know the price tag will not be cheap. But what if I told you there was a way to fund our schools without raising taxes?

In my second Washington Whiteboard segment on Tax Reform, I look at the state’s 694 tax loopholes and offer examples of some that are ripe for closing, either because they no longer serve the purpose for which they were created or they simply have not delivered the benefits they were created to provide.

You can view the short video by clicking here or on the icon below.

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    Democrats’ bills would improve transit agencies on multiple fronts

Democrats’ bills would improve transit agencies on multiple fronts

March 21st, 2017|

Democratic senators introduced five separate reforms today to address frustration surrounding how Sound Transit 3 is handling car tabs.

Senate Bill 5905, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, would adopt a new formula for assessing the value of vehicles taxed by Sound Transit on future bonds issued by accelerating the rate of depreciation.

“We all have a stake in building a world-class transportation system, but we must also ensure that those who can least afford it don’t shoulder an unfair burden – that’s what my bill is all about,” said Hobbs, the ranking member of the Senate Transportation Committee. “We must address the transit needs of our region and ensure greater transparency and accountability in working with Sound Transit. An undertaking of this magnitude is bound to find controversy along the way. I will remain open to all ideas that the public and Sound Transit bring forward.”

SB 5907, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, would direct transit agencies to improve coordination with Sound Transit and other agencies and show measurable progress as they integrate service with Sound Transit.

“As light rail grows, we want transit agencies to reallocate bus service so that our buses are feeding into rail stations rather than running the same routes served by rail,” said Liias, the assistant ranking member on the Senate Transportation Committee. “Our agencies need to work together seamlessly to make sure taxpayers get the best service for their dollars.”

SB 5908 and SB 5909, both sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, would increase accountability by: requiring notices of regional transit authority motor vehicle excise taxes and property taxes to include budget information and status of Sound Transit projects being funded by car tab fees; and directing county auditors to provide similar accountability statements on the status of Sound Transit projects to property taxpayers.

“As a former senior manager in the technology industry, I learned that if I didn’t keep my investors updated on how their projects were progressing, I would lose their trust,” said Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby. “The same can be said for government and its responsibility to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers. After all, taxpayers are essentially investors. That’s why I am directing county auditors and the Department of Licensing to provide information on the status of Sound Transit’s projects. People need to see their hard-earned dollars at work and be able to hold government accountable if projects aren’t being done on time or on budget.”

SB 5906, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, would allow Sound Transit to offer a rebate of up to 40 percent on car tab charges for low-income vehicle owners and a similar rebate of up to 40 percent on the property tax charge for Sound Transit 3 (ST3) for low-income homeowners.

“Like the overwhelming majority of the people in the 37th district, I strongly support more public transit options that come about through better community support and engagement,” Saldaña said. “Our district is made up of diverse, working people and families who are most impacted by our state’s upside down tax system. This bill aims to mitigate the effects of that broken system on fixed income adults and low-income folks who may need relief with some of the extra costs related to ST3 while ensuring we keep our district and region moving toward a cleaner and better transportation future.”

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    House to hear Liias bill to improve students’ digital citizenship

House to hear Liias bill to improve students’ digital citizenship

March 15th, 2017|

In-school strategies to help students navigate the pitfalls of digital media and communication would be reviewed and improved by legislation scheduled to be heard at 8 a.m. tomorrow by the House Committee on Education.

Senate Bill 5449, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, earlier passed the Senate on a strong, bipartisan 40-9 vote.

“We live in a dynamic environment where our young learners are being exposed to thousands of messages and advertisements, such as for alcohol, and there are folks online who are looking to prey on young people, not to mention risks such as malware and other cyber threats,” Liias said. “We need to make sure as our students are learning and growing that they understand the challenges posed by technology and can be responsible and safe consumers.”

Liias’ legislation would:

  • Require the Washington State School Directors’ Association to review and revise its policy and procedures on electronic resources and Internet safety and to develop a checklist for school districts;
  • Direct the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI ) to create a web-based location with links to recommended successful practices and resources to support digital citizenship, media literacy, and Internet safety; and
  • Task OSPI with surveying teacher-librarians, principals, and technology directors to understand how they are currently integrating digital citizenship and media literacy education in their curriculum.

The bill expands on legislation passed in 2016 that was inspired by Claire Beach, a retired media literacy educator from the Edmonds School District, to establish curricula and programs to raise student awareness of the pitfalls of digital media.

“One of the lessons I always tried to instill in my students was that committed citizens can make a difference, and this legislation proves that,” Beach said. “This not only helps students become more responsible consumers of media, it shows them what can be accomplished if they engage with their elected officials.”

“Thanks to Claire’s leadership, our state is a national leader in the effort to help students deal with digital influences,” Liias said. “Even in retirement, she continues to teach us.”

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    Liias: Levy cliff bill ‘a huge, huge victory for our local schools’

Liias: Levy cliff bill ‘a huge, huge victory for our local schools’

March 8th, 2017|

Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, issued this statement today following the Senate’s passage of legislation to postpone the so-called levy cliff that would have resulted in massive budget cuts to K-12 schools across the state.

“This is a huge, huge victory for our local schools, which would have faced massive cuts and the prospect of budgets that would have laid off teachers and other staff. The Edmonds School District would have lost $14.8 million and the Mukilteo School District would have had to cut $5.1 million.

“This means our children can expect a stable school year through next year, and their schools won’t face the prospect of later having to recruit to replace teachers that might have left for other districts or professions.

“This is why I came to Olympia, to get things done. I hope now we can build on this progress to finish the job of giving all our schoolchildren the education they deserve.”

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    Senate passes Liias bill to reduce ID costs for teens without addresses

Senate passes Liias bill to reduce ID costs for teens without addresses

March 7th, 2017|

Teens who lack home addresses because they face homelessness and related hardships could purchase identicards at cost under legislation that passed the Senate 47-2 and is now awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives.

“The mere possession of an ID can mean survival for teens who experience homelessness and are trying to get a job or find permanent housing,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood. “Any money they save on identicards is better spent on food, clothing and shelter from the nonprofits who can make the difference between these kids having to sleep on the streets.”

Liias’ Senate Bill 5382 would enabled Washingtonians under the age of 18 who have no primary address to purchase identicards at cost instead of the standard $54 fee.

“Cocoon House works with youth everyday who struggle to get connected to resources because they lack an ID,” said Julio Cortes of Cocoon House, a nonprofit that serves homeless and at-risk youth in Snohomish County. “Sen. Liias’ bill is going to have a positive, very real and direct impact on youth experiencing homelessness in our communities. With access to IDs, doors for youth will open and give them a better chance to become successful adults.”

Identicards are designed to be readily distinct from driver’s licenses and expire on the sixth anniversary of the applicants’ birth dates after issuance. Applicants may renew identicards at Dept. of Licensing offices, by mail, or electronically.